While I’ve written several blog posts about you, I felt like it was time to write something to you. Last Saturday marked 18 years since you died, making this the year that (sometime in April) I will have been alive longer without you than I was with you. Justin hit this a couple of years ago and it made me so sad for him. And this year it’s my turn. And it makes me sad for me. I definitely feel like I got screwed out of a mom a little bit. There are so many things I wish I could ask you now. Some important. Some not so important. And there are still moments almost every day when I think, “I wish I could talk to Mom about this!” But that’s not why I’m writing you this letter. I know if you could still be here with us, you would be. And that is probably the greatest gift that you’ve given me. Your unconditional, selfless love. And that is probably what I miss the most.
I’m writing this to you to tell you about my life, how I’m doing, and how much a part of my life you remain. I don’t want to try and recap the past 18 years in one letter. That would be too much, as I discovered in the attempt I made earlier this week. So, let me just cover the important stuff.
First of all, I am really happy. Life is hard, don’t get me wrong. But it is also amazing, and unpredictable, and full of beauty, and love, and joy, and laughter. I often find myself looking around at the world and thinking, “How did I get so lucky?!” I’ve realized that this is a gift you’ve given me. I see the world the way you taught me to see it. You taught me to view it with faith when you told me over and over again that “it always works out.” You taught me to live in the moment when you reminded me constantly not to “borrow trouble”. You taught me to be kind, even in the face of pests (a lesson that maybe took me a while to learn) whenever you reminded me that I could catch more flies with honey than I could with vinegar. You taught me to take risks when you let me go to Belgium as an exchange student when I was only 14 and then told me to try out for cheerleading…again, even though I hadn’t made it after I got back from Belgium when you told me, “If you don’t try, you definitely won’t make it”. You taught me to keep learning through your example as you developed new talents throughout your short life. You taught me the value of hard work can solve a lot of problems when I would complain about being cold or bored and you’d tell me to go clean the bathroom. 🙂 And you taught me to be generous with my time and talents, as you were with yours. And all of those lessons have led me to where I am today. And it’s pretty great. I know you’d approve 150% (and you would have definitely visited me here at least five times already…if not just moved to Japan with me).
Second, I really like who I am. It’s been a long time in the making, but the foundation has been there since long before you died. Don’t get me wrong. There’s still room for improvement, for sure. And there are some days when I really disappoint myself. But most days I think, “Mom would be proud.” Although I know you love me even on my worst days. I didn’t realize at the time, that all of those things you were teaching me weren’t just to help me become a good person, but to help me become a person I really like.
Third, on the days when my actions wouldn’t make you proud, my collection of shoes definitely would. As would my mastery of makeup application while driving a car or riding a crowded subway. (I can’t say the same for the butane curling iron, but I haven’t tried.)
Fourth, while no one is you, I have been unfairly blessed in the “family and friends” department. And while the sum of their parts can’t make up for not having you here today, they do a pretty incredible job filling in.
And finally, and maybe most importantly, you have some pretty awesome grandkids. I know you know that, but seriously, they are just so great! There is a part of you in each one of them. And I do my best to make up for the fact that none of them will get to know you in this life. I’m not perfect at being you, but I send gifts and try to see them as often as I can and there’s this amazing technology now that let’s me talk to them face-to-face even though I’m 6,000 miles away. I have taken time off work to help with the new babies. I make them Swedish pancakes. I jump on the trampoline with them. I teach them how to do knee dives and flips and back floats, and I make sure they don’t twist when they jump into the pool. I take them on trips and try to show them how exciting the world is just like you did for me. But more than anything, I try to help them feel the unconditional, selfless love that they would have unquestioningly felt from you.
I still miss you every day, but thank you for giving me everything I needed to become the person I am and showing me how to live a truly joyful life.
I love you always!
Chloe (your favorite youngest daughter)
P.S. Sorry about all of the change I never returned to you…and the occasional $20 bill that went missing from your purse. That was totally me. I promise, I don’t do things like that anymore.
P.S. #2 And sorry I was such a brat the last day I saw you alive. Don’t worry. I’m not dwelling on it or anything. I know you forgave me that very day and that you understood I was a moody, selfish teenager, but still. I think it’s important for you to know that if I could go back and do things differently on that day, I totally would have.
P.S. #3 If there’s any chance your pizza sauce recipe exists somewhere in the universe, it would be great if you could somehow let us know.